As we let the euphoria of this past Championship weekend and the parade on Monday settle in, we have a moment to reflect on one of those responsible for this achievement. Full credit should go out to Larry Tanenbaum and MLSE for bringing in Tim Leiweke and for Leiweke for bringing in Bezbatchenko and promoting Greg Vanney to coach. Credit to all of them for bringing in players like Jermain DeFoe who was flipped for Jozy Altidore, Sebastian Giovinco and of course Michael Bradley. Regardless of who owns the team, who runs the team and who makes personnel decisions; since Bradley stepped onto the field, make no mistake… this is Bradley’s team.
He has been and continues to be the motor, the very heart and soul of this team and he has done so without scoring a single goal all year. Not all captains are deserving of the armband and our chosen for a variety of reasons. Not so for Bradley. He is advertised as his nickname from his playing days in Roma would suggest. “The General” is unquestionably TFC’s leader. You see him in huddles and on the field inspiring his troops and barking out orders. You see him defend his players against opponents and against referee’s who lack quality. He has not shied away from the media, always there to answer questions. Not because he likes too or has something to say, but because he knows it comes with the role of being a leader. During interviews you are mesmerized by his soft spoken voice and well thought out answers which contradicts the intense stare emanating from his blue eyes. So when you listen to him after the game or in the press conference and he uses words like obsession, ridiculous, and “effen” proud, you know that these are just the tips of the iceberg and there is so much more meaning below the surface.
The “obsession” Bradley had referred to, started with the loss to Seattle last year and he thanked them for it. Not that they needed the extra motivation, but to lose like they did, just made them want it more and therefore helped them to do more. They took that obsession into realizing that how they played every single game mattered, not just the MLS Cup, in essence the best way to prepare for the biggest game of their life was to treat each and every game that way. This lead to TFC winning the Canada Cup, easily. Winning the Supporters Shield, easily as they had the best regular season in MLS history and were 12 points ahead of the second place New York Red Bulls. It also lead to them winning the MLS Cup, easily as well. The treble was a massive accomplishment and was earned by the incredibly talented, energetic and deep team that all shared the same obsession.
In all seriousness though, if they had lost the Cup game, none of that would have really mattered, would it? So despite the Sounders being the defending champions, there really wasn’t that much pressure on Seattle to repeat. The pressure was all on the the Reds and they knew it. Were they chokers? Would they lose at home again? Would they fall like the Golden State Warriors did when they won 73 games in a season or like the LA Galaxy did when they reached 68 points in a season. It is quite an undertaking to play well with that much pressure on your shoulders. This again is another reason as to what made this past Saturday evening so magical. Toronto FC didn’t just play with that kind of pressure on them, they excelled. From kickoff to the final whistle they dominated the Cup game more than any other team has done so before them. Their passing, possession and relentless attack was on full display for the world to see. After that final whistle, Bradley put it all into perspective with a single word. For a team with so much riding on it and with so much pressure on them to play as dominantly as they, well… that really is just ridiculous.
For Bradley and Altidore this “ridiculous” performance is so much sweeter as they tasted defeat with the US men’s national team earlier this year. How difficult was it to play in New York and Columbus and get booed by thousands and thousands of people when your only crime was to represent those same people as best you could. The American fans were harsh and as much as I feel they were completely wrong in their actions, I have to thank them. Their booing may have helped strengthen the bond that this city has with those two designated players. They have professed their love for the fans and for this city countless times over the past few days. And this city loves them right back.
So Bradley finally let out a tiny bit of emotion at the post game press conference and said, “I am so %[email protected]# proud of this team.” As he should be. As we all are. As the city is. We are proud for their performance on the day that it mattered and for each and every game this season. It has been a memorable ride, one that won’t be forgotten about for quite some time in these parts. Thank you Toronto FC for helping Toronto reach their obsession with being a Championship city with your absolutely, ridiculously good performance. We are all so effen proud.
» Sports » Obsession. Ridiculous. Effen Proud